The tau protein levels in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF-tau) were examined in 27 patients with alcohol dependence (20 demented and 7 nondemented), 36 age and dementia severity-matched patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), and 23 age-matched normal control subjects. The CSF-tau levels in the demented alcoholic group (alcohol-induced organic brain disorders, 25.4 ± 10.2 pg/ml) was significantly lower (p < 0.0001) than that in the AD group (96.1 ± 53.3 pg/ml), but not significantly different from that in the nondemented alcoholics (18.1 ± 10.2 pg/ml) or the controls (19.2 ± 12.9 pg/ml). Using a 44.9 pg/ml as a cut-off value (mean + 2 SD of the normal control group), only one patient with alcohol-induced organic brain disorders exceeded the value, whereas 3 of 36 of the AD group showed CSF-tau levels less than this level. These findings suggest that alcohol-induced organic brain disorders are a group of dementias that are characterized by normal CSF-tau levels, and that the CSF examination for tau in combination with other clinical findings may help in differentiating alcohol-induced organic brain disorders from AD.
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